Why Anthropology?

Is anthropology for me?

To find out, you could begin by asking yourself: Do I have an interest in people and in their similarities and differences? Would I enjoy discovering how different peoples of the world organize their lives and societies and how they react to varying natural and human-made environments? Am I curious about how people adapt to diverse cultural and biological situations?

What is anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of past and present human societies. It is one of the most wide-ranging of the academic disciplines. Anthropologists are concerned with the origin, history, and future of our own species, so the field is as diverse as people are.

There are four main subdisciplines of anthropology: Archaeology is concerned with studying the human past based on the material culture left behind. Biological or physical anthropology is concerned with human evolution and variation. Linguistic anthropology focuses on language, its history, and its evolution as a way to understand humans and their culture. Sociocultural anthropology is concerned with analyzing behaviors and describing contemporary and historical cultures. Applied anthropologists employ their subdisciplinary skills outside college and university settings.

As an anthropology student, you will learn about the varied cultures and peoples in the world, delve into the planet’s prehistory, and develop an understanding of the biological aspects of human existence.

Why should I choose KU?

  • Faculty and peer support. Anthropology courses are taught by experienced faculty members who bring to their classes the same enthusiasm they have for research. The department also has active graduate and undergraduate associations that will broaden your experiences and allow you to interact informally with other students and faculty.
  • Research opportunities. As an anthropology student you will have many opportunities to participate in research. Classes often make use of the extensive ethnographic collections housed in Spooner Hall. One biological anthropology lab contains the most extensive collection of fossil hominid cast material in the Midwest. The other two labs, both molecular genetic laboratories, have ongoing research projects that span the globe. Archaeology and geoarchaeology field work, as well as lab work, provides practical experience in the techniques of archaeological data collection and analysis. A summer sociocultural field school in Costa Rica prepares students for doing ethnographic research in many parts of the world.
  • Exchange programs. KU has exchange programs with many universities throughout the world. Through KU’s Office of Study Abroad, you can spend a summer, semester, or a year studying at almost any university in the world. The Department of Anthropology will give you great preparation for experiencing different cultures and for participating in the world community.
  • Your overall education. The overall quality and breadth of your education in one great reason for coming to KU. KU offers hundreds of courses, has excellent teachers, and stresses interdisciplinary research and teaching.

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